‘Panama Papers’ revelations trigger global probes

April 5, 2016 12:28 pm
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A massive leak from Mossack Fonseca of 11.5 million tax documents exposes the secret offshore dealings of the world's wealthy/AFP
A massive leak from Mossack Fonseca of 11.5 million tax documents exposes the secret offshore dealings of the world’s wealthy/AFP

, PARIS, France, Apr 5 – Several countries have launched tax evasion probes after a massive leak of confidential documents lifted the lid on the murky offshore financial dealings of a slew of politicians and celebrities.

The scandal erupted on Sunday when media groups began revealing the results of a year-long investigation into a trove of 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specialises in creating offshore shell companies.

Overview
  • The scandal erupted on Sunday when media groups began revealing the results of a year-long investigation into a trove of 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specialises in creating offshore shell companies.
  • Among those named in the "Panama Papers" are close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, as well as Barcelona striker Lionel Messi.
  • In Iceland's capital Reykjavik, thousands took to the streets late Monday to demand the premier resign over allegations that he and his wife used an offshore firm to hide millions of dollars of investments.

Among those named in the “Panama Papers” are close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, as well as Barcelona striker Lionel Messi.

In Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, thousands took to the streets late Monday to demand the premier resign over allegations that he and his wife used an offshore firm to hide millions of dollars of investments.

Australia has already launched a probe into 800 wealthy Mossack Fonseca clients. France and the Netherlands also announced investigations, while a judicial source said Spain had opened a money-laundering investigation into the law firm.

Panama also pledged to launch an investigation to identify if any crimes have been committed and any financial damages should be awarded.

President Juan Carlos Varela said Panama would cooperate with the international probes but also vowed to “defend the image of our country”, which has a reputation as a hub for under-the-table dealings.

Messi’s family was swift to dismiss any suggestion he had been involved in shady activity, saying “accusations he created a… tax evasion plot, including a network of money-laundering, are false and insulting”.

Messi has been charged with tax fraud in a separate case that is due to go to trial in Spain in May.

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